Spring Teaching Tune-Up — Now Online!

We will miss seeing everyone in person this year for the Spring Teaching Tune-Up, but we want you to be safe, have a chance to move at your own pace, and give yourself some time for reflection in the middle of this unprecedented year.  In that spirit we are offering a fully asynchronous, choose-your-own adventure Tune-Up! Choose any or all of the videos below that might help you prepare for spring, then take a few minutes after viewing to reflect on the questions provided and how you might apply the concepts to your up-coming courses. If you want to discuss them further with the team,  book a consultation at this link.

Note: These videos are shortened versions of workshops we held over the summer and fall.  The two anti-racist pedagogy lectures are first, followed by videos we believe will be helpful with planning for the online semester. The description should help give you a sense of the content and presenter, in case you want to direct your attention to things you missed or revisit workshops you attended previously.  Enjoy!

Moving from the Downstream to the Upstream with Dr. Kathy Yep, Pitzer College

In this lecture / workshop, Dr. Yep uses a river parable to help participants better understand the “upstream” factors that might contribute to inequity in the classroom.

Questions to consider:

1) Is your class primarily focused on the “upstream,” “midstream,” or “downstream”?  Is there one place you can shift some of your thinking / assignments / readings to better identify the upstream factors that influence your disciplinary or classroom inequality?

2) What problem-posing might be useful in your class this semester? Put another way, how can you connect the students’ personal experiences and stories to the social contradictions of the larger discipline or field in ways that encourage “hope, critical thinking, and liberation”?

Can We Have an Anti-Racist Shakespeare? With Dr. Ambereen Dadabhoy, Harvey Mudd College

In this lecture / workshop, Dr. Dadabhoy invites participants to consider the ways our discussions of texts and literature construct and uphold forms of normative (white, male, heteronormative) identity, and how we might challenge this perspective through a more robust and intentional application of critical race theory.

Questions to consider:

1) Which aspects of Twine’s “racial literacy” framework could you add to your courses to better practice anti-racist pedagogy?

2) What readings, videos, slides, or assignments might need to be updated in your course to ensure that you are representing the full diversity of scholars and voices in your field?

Incorporating Student-Centered Learning into Online Labs: Sadie Otte, Keck Science Department

This video presents various methods used to center student voices and provide students with choices in online organic chemistry labs. The big ideas and many of the specific methods will be broadly applicable to courses in any field. Topics will include determining course goals and community norms, student self-assessment, and collaborative assignments/projects.

Questions to consider:

1) What are some ways I can incorporate student-centered practices in my syllabus design?

2) How might student self-assessment work in my lab course?

3) What can I do to facilitate collaboration and classroom community in an online lab?

To Test or Not To Test: Mary Hatcher-Skeers, CTL Faculty Co-Director

This workshop describes the pros and cons of exams and the particular difficulties of giving exams in an online environment.  It discusses alternative types of assessments, both small stakes and larger summative assignments, and when to use which.  For instances when exams are the best choice, the workshop provides different types of exams and best practices for administering them.

Questions to consider;

  1. Are you giving exams because they are the best choice or because it is what your field usually does?  If it is the latter, what other types of assessments could you imagine using in your course?
  2. Does your course include both formative and summative assessments?  If not, can you add what is missing to strengthen learning outcomes?
  3. If you are going to give an exam, think about the three types of exams discussed.  Which makes the most sense for your course?  What resources do you need to administer this type exam well?

Community Building in Online Environments, Michelle Decker, Scripps College

In this video, Michelle Decker (English, Scripps) discusses some ways she’s built and maintained community in her classes, including creating stable small groups, using Zoom wisely, and building in flexibility to class meetings.

Questions to consider:

  1. Michelle has altered her classes to only discuss one reading at time, and sometimes offers her students a choice of what readings to prioritize. Which readings or assignments from your courses do students tend to engage with most? Are these readings and assignments prioritized in your course plan for Spring 2021?
  2. Do stable small groups make sense for your course? What tasks could they do together?
  3. What is your plan to react to reduced participation and fatigue as the end of semester approaches? Do you think your course and your students would benefit from increased flexibility or increased accountability and structure as the semester goes on?

Discussion-Based Strategies with Kathryn Wolford, formerly of Scripps College and Cory Davia, Claremont McKenna College

In this video, Drs. Wolford and Davia share strategies they have used to improve the quality and depth of discussion in their classes. Dr. Wolford focuses on the use of history games like “Reacting to the Past,” and Dr. Davia asks students to “read” their colleague’s discussion as if it were a text for the course.

Questions to Consider:

1) Would gamifying some aspect of your course add challenge or variety?  If so, which part and what type of collaborative, goal oriented game might be useful?

2) Where have you noticed student frustration with discussion in your courses?  Why do you think that is?  What change could you make to preparing for, engaging in, or debriefing class discussions that might help students better understand their roles and importance?

Setting Realistic Goals with Warren Liu, Scripps College, CTL Faculty Co-Director

This video focuses on how instructors can set realistic teaching goals for themselves as they continue to revise and adapt courses for a fully online learning environment. Given the overwhelming array of teaching tools and technologies at our disposal, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the most basic questions that inform our teaching strategies. Adopting a backwards-design approach, this workshop highlights how starting with the basic questions first can be an effective method for defining and achieveing realistic teaching goals.

Questions to consider:

1) What am I already pretty good at, as an instructor?

2) What do I want my students to get pretty good at?

3) How can I best achieve these goals in an online classroom?

Backward Design and Transparent Goal Setting (Course Design Institute Day 1) with Jessica Tinklenberg and Mary Hatcher-Skeers, CTL

In this video, we share some key considerations for any course: backward design and transparent goal-setting.

Questions to consider:

1) What do you want your students to know, or be, or do by the end of the class? Do your assignments, readings, and daily support encourage your students to move toward those goals?  If not, what needs to be changed or eliminated to ensure student success?

2) Are your students working toward a sense of authority in your classes?  If not, what content, reflection, and application opportunities can you add to ensure students are working toward authority?

Transparent Assignments (Course Design Institute Day 2) with Mary Hatcher-Skeers, CTL Faculty Co-Director

This workshop on transparent assignments begins by discussing types of assignments (formative/summative).  It describes when, why and how to use small stakes, formative assessments (particularly online) and challenges you to develop summative assessments that push your students to DO something with the content they have learned.  Finally, it describes the importance of transparency and provides a template for developing transparent assignments, using the principles of Purpose-Task-Criteria –Transparent Assignment Design Worksheet at this link.

Questions to consider while designing your course;

  1. What methods (type of assessments – quizzes, homework, message boards, etc.) can you include to monitor if your students are learning the basic content of your course?
  2. Can you use these content checks to build more community online?  Perhaps incorporate group problem sets, a message board, or a community reading platform (like Perusall)?
  3. What kind of ‘wicked’ summative assessment could you add to your course?  If you already have one, have you provided the scaffolding needed for students to be successful?
  4. Are your assignments transparent?  Will your students understand the purpose, task and criteria?  Use the assignment design template (provided above) to assess the transparency of your assignments.

Equity and Access (Course Design Institute Day 3) with Jessica Tinklenberg, CTL Director

In this video, Jessica shares two frameworks for thinking about equity and access in your classrooms: Universal Design for Learning, and Culturally Sustaining Practices. The video provides some questions to ask yourself to help incorporate these frameworks into your courses. The video ends with three ways to start if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Reflection Questions

  1. Does your course present learning opportunities and course materials in multiple ways? Do you feel your students would benefit from additional modalities?
  2. How much do you know about your student’s existing knowledges and competencies already? How can you learn more about your students, and bring their knowledge into your course
  3. Jessica advocates for a +1 approach—is there one thing you can add, do, or change about your course to bring in UDL or CSP principles this semester?